Congress-DMK talks hit impasse, Cong miffed with DMK offer of 18 seats

Congress-DMK talks hit impasse, Cong miffed with DMK offer of 18 seats
In a setback for the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu, the Congress on Wednesday has expressed unwillingness to continue seat-sharing negotiations if the Dravidian party is not ready to increase the number of constituencies it is offering the national party. According to sources in the Congress, the DMK is ready to allocate only 18 seats for its ally and refused to discuss the matter any further. The Congress, which has been one of DMK’s longest allies, contested in 40 seats in 2016 but won in just 8. Speaking to TNM, a senior leader who was part of the negotiations said that some Congress leaders even skipped the second round of talks, as the DMK was unwilling to budge on the seat allocation. When asked if the Congress will leave the alliance, however, the source did not commit to any stand but maintained that further discussion would lead to no result if the DMK stuck to its initial offering. The Congress leader, when asked if he will join the third front led by Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam in the state, maintained that they will have ‘to see’. “They (DMK) have no explanation to offer, they keep saying this is all we can offer,” an exasperated Congress leader told TNM. Sources in the DMK, meanwhile, told TNM that the Congress came to the table demanding 41 seats while the DMK began negotiations at 12 seats. “The ideal number would be 15 seats for the Congress but if they insist we will go up to 18. But as of now, we can even consider giving them between 24 to 27 seats. It depends on how the talks proceed,” he said. According to the DMK source, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi understands the ground situation but he alleges that it is the local Congress leaders who are creating problems for the alliance. “We want talks to continue smoothly and don’t want any kind of rumblings that will affect the image of the alliance,” he adds. The Congress source, however, said that they would not settle for anything less than 30 seats and if this meant breaking off from the alliance, then they would meet the challenge. The DMK’s discussions with VCK have also not progressed smoothly. While the VCK wants to contest in 10 seats, the DMK is ready to offer only 4 seats.

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